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Business Comment

Simon English: Easy to work with but tough calls must be made

Outlook The contrast between the previous Aviva management and the new already seems stark. The analyst in the taxi on the way back to the office after meeting Mr McFarlane and co reports this shock news: "They didn't treat us like idiots."

By this telling, Mr Moss used to berate analysts who dared to suggest the dividend might have to be cut or that underperforming businesses might have to be sold.

Even the City awkward squad have warmed to Mr McFarlane and the shares didn't move much yesterday even when he conceded that a fall in the dividend can't be exactly ruled out. "He is incredibly plausible," says the man with the pointy head. "He's got to deliver, but he does come across well."